Bloomberg: “Muslim Groups Seek To Revive New York Police Surveillance Suit”

Sophia Pearson for Bloomberg: “Muslim groups seeking to revive a lawsuit over a New York City Police Department surveillance program of mosques and businesses faced tough questions from appeals judges about terrorism and skepticism from an attorney for the city about the program’s very existence.

Several Muslims sued New York in June 2012 in Newark, New Jersey, federal court claiming police singled them out for their religious beliefs. The plaintiffs included a U.S. soldier and a teacher at a Muslim school for girls. Both said their career prospects would be hindered as a result of the spying.”

At helm of NYPD, Bratton will take on role of healer-in-chief of a worried Muslim community

December 6, 2013

 

When William J. Bratton takes over as commissioner of the New York Police Department early next year, he will inherit the country’s most powerful local counterterrorism force, but one that has alienated the city’s large Muslim community.

“We need to heal some of the wounds, reopen the communications and the partnership,” Bill de Blasio (D), the mayor-elect, said Thursday while introducing Bratton, 66, as the next police commissioner at a news conference.

Bratton will have his hands full in this role of healer-in-chief as he reassures New York’s Muslim community and other minorities that they will not be racially profiled.

The next commissioner said there are people in the city who “feel that . . . there has been unnecessary intrusion into their lives.”

In 2003 under Kelly, the NYPD launched an aggressive campaign to infiltrate certain ethnic communities in the city’s five boroughs and map where Muslims live, work, eat and pray.

Muslims in New York say they have reason to be hopeful that Bratton will change course while still protecting the country’s top terrorism target. As chief of the Los Angeles police, Bratton came to reject the idea of mapping.

“We police this city with the consent and cooperation of the community,” Bratton said in 2007, announcing his decision to abandon a mapping program. “We did not have that here, and we will not go forward with this program.”

Bratton said he didn’t want to “spread fear.”

 

Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/at-helm-of-nypd-bratton-will-take-on-role-of-healer-in-chief-as-muslim-community-looks-on/2013/12/06/0facc264-5e84-11e3-95c2-13623eb2b0e1_story.html

‘Fiction’: Ray Kelly Rebuts Allegations That NYPD Monitored Mosques

On Morning Joe Wednesday morning, New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly fought back against allegations that the NYPD had monitored entire mosques in the course of counterterrorist operations, telling host Joe Scarborough that the charges were the result of two reporters with an axe to grind, and the police department’s tactics were conducted lawfully and in the interests of the city’s security.

“They’re hyping a book that’s coming out next week,” Kelly said of the authors of the article with the allegations. “The book is based on a compilation of about fifty articles two AP reporters did on the department. If it’s a reflection of the article, then the book will be a fair amount of fiction. It will be half-truths, it will be lots of quotes from unnamed course sources.”

Scarborough asked if Kelly agreed that it would be improper to place entire mosques under police suspicion.

“Of course,” Kelly said. “We do according to the law. What we’re investigating, and how we investigate it, is done pursuant to a federal judge’s direction.”

 

Using a Would-Be Subway Bomber to Justify Sweeping Surveillance

Najibullah Zazi, coffee vendor, is such a useful captured terrorist.

 

Question why the New York Police Department sends undercover “crawlers” to monitor mosques and Muslim students, and the department’s partisans point to Mr. Zazi. How do you think, they ask, we caught that Queens kid who was ready to blow up subway cars in 2009?

Last week, the Obama administration laid its own claim to Mr. Zazi’s scalp. Under fire for covertly harvesting phone calls and e-mails of millions and for peering under our electronic covers, they pointed by way of self-defense to the imprisoned terrorist.

AP Exclusive: Informant says NYPD paid him to ‘bait’ Muslims, take photos inside mosques

NEW YORK — A paid informant for the New York Police Department’s intelligence unit was under orders to “bait” Muslims into saying inflammatory things as he lived a double life, snapping pictures inside mosques and collecting the names of innocent people attending study groups on Islam, he told The Associated Press.

Shamiur Rahman, a 19-year-old American of Bangladeshi descent who has now denounced his work as an informant, said police told him to embrace a strategy called “create and capture.” He said it involved creating a conversation about jihad or terrorism, then capturing the response to send to the NYPD. For his work, he earned as much as $1,000 a month and goodwill from the police after a string of minor marijuana arrests.

“We need you to pretend to be one of them,” Rahman recalled the police telling him. “It’s street theater.”

Rahman said he now believes his work as an informant against Muslims in New York was “detrimental to the Constitution.” After he disclosed to friends details about his work for the police — and after he told the police that he had been contacted by the AP — he stopped receiving text messages from his NYPD handler, “Steve,” and his handler’s NYPD phone number was disconnected.

Rahman’s account shows how the NYPD unleashed informants on Muslim neighborhoods, often without specific targets or criminal leads. Much of what Rahman said represents a tactic the NYPD has denied using.

The AP corroborated Rahman’s account through arrest records and weeks of text messages between Rahman and his police handler. The AP also reviewed the photos Rahman sent to police. Friends confirmed Rahman was at certain events when he said he was there, and former NYPD officials, while not personally familiar with Rahman, said the tactics he described were used by informants.

Rahman said he eventually tired of spying on his friends, noting that at times they delivered food to needy Muslim families. He said he once identified another NYPD informant spying on him. He took $200 more from the NYPD and told them he was done as an informant. He said the NYPD offered him more money, which he declined. He told friends on Facebook in early October that he had been a police spy but had quit. He also traded Facebook messages with Shahbaz, admitting he had spied on students at John Jay.

An Independent Monitor for the Police Is Proposed

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Central Intelligence Agency have inspectors general who function as independent monitors. So do the police departments of major cities like Los Angeles and Chicago, as well as the nation’s capital. Even most New York City agencies, like the Education Department and the Housing Authority, have similar monitors.

But not the New York Police Department.

About two dozen members of the City Council planned to introduce a bill on Wednesday that would create an office of the inspector general to monitor the police and “conduct independent reviews of the department’s policies, practices, programs and operations.”

The council members said that there has never been a more opportune time to increase oversight over so powerful an agency, especially in light of the department’s stop-and-frisk policy, surveillance of Muslim groups, questions over allegedly manipulated arrest data and other recent controversies involving the police.

“This kind of independent oversight can act as an early-warning system for a very large agency,” said Richard M. Aborn, president of the Citizens Crime Commission, which has worked closely with council members on the legislation.

New Jersey Muslims file federal suit to stop New York Police Department from spying on them

WASHINGTON — One of the Obama administration’s go-to civil rights groups in its efforts to build relationships with American Muslims is suing the New York Police Department over its surveillance programs, some of which were paid for with federal money.

Eight Muslims filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday in New Jersey to force the NYPD to end its surveillance and other intelligence-gathering practices targeting Muslims in the years after the 2001 terrorist attacks. The lawsuit alleged that the NYPD’s activities were unconstitutional because they focused on people’s religion, national origin and race.

It is the first lawsuit to directly challenge the NYPD’s surveillance programs that targeted entire Muslim neighborhoods, chronicling the daily life of where people ate, prayed and got their hair cut. The surveillance was the subject of series of stories by The Associated Press that revealed the NYPD intelligence division infiltrated dozens of mosques and Muslim student groups and investigated hundreds.

The Muslims suing the NYPD are represented by Muslim Advocates, a California-based civil rights group that meets regularly with members of the Obama administration.

AP wins Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting on NYPD surveillance

Matt Apuzzo, Adam Goldman, Chris Hawley and Eileen Sullivan of The Associated Press today were named winners of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting for their months-long series outlining the New York Police Department’s surveillance of minority and particularly Muslim neighborhoods since the 9/11 terror attacks.

In addition, the AP had finalists in two other Pulitzer categories, Feature Photography and National Reporting.

The Pulitzer Prizes are the most prestigious honors in journalism.

The NYPD stories revealed that the department had become one of the nation’s most aggressive domestic intelligence agencies, sending undercover officers into minority neighborhoods, student groups and houses of worship, though there was no indication they harbored criminals or terrorists.

In documenting the extent of the NYPD’s undercover operations, conducted with the advice and guidance of the CIA, the AP team’s stories ignited ongoing debate in the halls of government, in the ethnic communities, on editorial pages and across the Web.

House Democrats decry Bloomberg’s ‘underhanded’ response to concerns over NYPD Muslim spying

WASHINGTON — Ten House Democrats, including a member of the party’s leadership and lawmakers who oversee intelligence and homeland security matters, have criticized New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg for his “underhanded and unprofessional” response to criticism of the New York Police Department’s spying programs.

The Associated Press has reported for months that the NYPD systematically spied on Muslims neighborhoods, using informants and undercover officers to serve as “listening posts” in mosques and businesses in New York and New Jersey. Police documented the details of sermons, even when they were innocuous and peaceful, and infiltrated Muslim student groups on college campuses. NYPD officers catalogued where Muslims ate, eat and prayed — with no mention of criminal activity — and targeted Mosques using techniques typically reserved for criminal investigations.

The lawmakers asked Bloomberg to explain what exactly he knew about the NYPD’s intelligence operations and to explain how federal money was used.

A Balancing Act for the Police Department

In the binary system offered by Machiavelli — “it is better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both” — the New York Police Department loses on either count.

The police in a big city can’t expect to be truly loved; it’s not part of the job description. At the same time, it is hard to imagine that the fondest wish of the department brass is to be feared. What, then, would distinguish them from an occupying force?

But there is a third possibility not covered by the Machiavellian construct. It is a middle path, arguably the sanest choice of all: to be respected. That’s where the department has been struggling of late, on several fronts.

Its surveillance of Muslims as part of its counterterrorism strategy has led to a concerted pushback from Islamic groups. The huge numbers of New Yorkers affected by its stop-and-frisk policy, principally young African-Americans and Latinos, have produced cries of racism and legislative attempts to limit the practice. Its battles with Occupy Wall Street have generated criticism that it fails to respect the rights of those engaged in lawful dissent.